Breakfast Special, #43, “Owning the Man”

Owning the Man

Lily set down the glass punch bowl filled with canned fruit cocktail and stirred it while wishing for fresh grapes with skins that cracked when you bit into them. No one knew who’d brought the very large restaurant sized can to the kitchen and left it for the potluck. She looked around the room full of people and hoped whoever had shared the generous treat of fruit, even if it wasn’t the fresh variety, would notice that it had been gratefully honored with both the pretty punch serving bowl and placement near the plates so that everyone was aware of its presence as soon as they came to get something to eat. As she scanned the room for anyone taking any notice of the efforts of herself and the other people setting out the array of hot and cold dishes she caught Sarge looking back at her.

Lily set the punch bowl ladle handle in its grove by touch and returned Sarge’s ‘Hey, I see you over there’ look from the side of the room where he was keeping company with the men who’d helped with the rewiring project at Percy Two’s home building today. Esther came to her side, picked up a plate and hip-checked Lily.  “You going to eat something tonight or stand here trading stares with that man? Hmm? You’re attracting attention.”

“Oh? Who’s attention? Yours? Hand me a plate, please, Esther.” Feeling Esther oblige her by slapping a plate against her open palm, Lily looked away from Sarge to her friend.

Esther settled some fruit cocktail on her plate then surveyed the packed room. “The b-brigade been on point all night long. Check out the east wall. They’re all lined up like they’re posing for mug-hots.” She made her way down the length of the buffet table starting and stopping suddenly several times causing Lily and herself to bump into each other. “They ready to run and jump like they waiting for a gun to go off for a race.” Esther deliberated, stopped and leaned backwards so that Lily would bang into her again. “You have any intel on what’s got into them?”

Lily glanced at the group of young women standing along the east wall, plates in hand, eating and talking amongst themselves and to the men walking past who caught their attention. “They seem to be their usual selves as far as I can see.” She looked back at Sarge who’d lowered his eyes while listening to something someone in the group was saying. Instead of trading eye action she got a good look at his dusty mop of unruly waves and curls. She shot a fast look at the young women along the east wall and caught two of them obviously looking him over and snickering between themselves.

Lily elbowed Esther who responded with a soft, “Uh huh?”

“Esther, dare me.”

“Dare you what?” Esther dropped a spoonful of macaroni and cheese onto her plate then slid her eyes towards Lily.

“Just dare me. Say, ‘I dare you, Lily.’”

Esther refrained from spearing a piece of thinly sliced brisket with her fork and turned her full attention to the woman next to her. “What am I daring you to do?” She followed Lily’s glaze to the women of the b-brigade. “Don’t be thinking of stirring that horde for some fun, Lily. It’s been a long day and Esther has zero fuel left for peace-keeping. They’re just looking. They ain’t touching.” She looked in Sarge’s direction. “He ain’t even looking their way. No reason to strike any matches, girlfriend.”

“I won’t say anything to them, Esther. I promise.” Lily held her plate with both hands and looked around the room as several newcomers approached the food tables. “Give me a little verbal push. That’s all I’m asking.”

Esther raised one eyebrow and looked from Lily to Sarge. “Ah ha. A little verbal push? Hmm. First swear that you’re not going over there to b-slap the b-brigade for be-ing themselves.”

“I swear.” She faced Esther and nodded. “I swear I won’t slap anyone.” She pointed at Esther’s plate. “You’re going to go eat with Louisa and Martina?”

“That’s my short-term plan. Nothing stopping you from joining us. Except whatever, ‘I dare you’ action is on your mind. What’s on your plate besides a lot of canned fruit, Lily? Hmm?”

“Dare me and you’ll find out.” Lily grinned. “Come on, Esther. I promise to keep the peace. Though I do admit that the b-brigade is getting on my nerves tonight.”

Esther stepped away from the table and Lily followed in order to let the newcomers have access to the brisket. “Oh they are, are they? Why is that, Lily?”

“Do they change as they get older, Esther? I mean the b-brigade type of women. Will they ever stop being the b-brigade?”

“Sorry, Lily, but as far as Esther’s intel goes, once a member of the b-brigade, always a member. It’s like they’ve been imprinted for life unless they literally get struck by lightning and their wires get rerouted.” She frowned. “That didn’t come out quite like I was thinking, but you get my drift.”

“I do.” Lily popped a grape from the fruit cocktail mix into her mouth. “Not bad for a canned grape.” She handed Esther her plate and removed the hair tie from the end of her braid.

Esther held both plates while Lily quickly undid her braid. “What’s with this hair action, Lily?”

Lily shook her head sending her hair rippling down the lenght of her back then took her plate back from Esther. “How do I look?”

“How?” Esther glanced at the b-brigade then looked at Lily. “Like you got a long, long ways to go before you ever even close to b-brigade membership. Infiltration is not an option. They spot your intent zero second flat.”

“Oh yeah? You think they’re that sharp, Esther? I mean, do you think they’re smart enough to catch and comprehend my unspoken intentions?”

“They’re bitch-es, not dumb-shits.”

“I’m counting on that distinction, Esther. I’ll catch up with you later. Okay, I guess I’ll dare myself.” Lily squared her shoulders, shook her hair again and smiled at Esther. “I dare you, Lily.” She turned on her toes and walked around the table to the other side. Pausing for moment, she looked over her shoulder and winked at Esther.

“Hmm, yes you did. Now what are you up to, girlfriend?” Curious, Esther hung back, ate some macaroni and watched Lily making her way through the people eating and talking in various social groups. When Lily made a point of walking past the women designated as the b-brigade, Esther held her breath waiting for her to suddenly break her stride and engage in some caustic verbal warfare as often happened when she and the group got a little too close to each other for their mutual comfort. Instead of slowing down or stopping to engage in a sarcastic exchange, as had been her want ever since Lily had gotten clued into what John had called his meaningless side-bar dalliances with several of the young women, Lily kept on moving. Her proximity and silence had definitely caught the attention of the women who waited for her to do an about-face and come straight back at them for a little dishing.

Oblivious to the other people moving past her near the buffet table, Esther spoke out loud quietly to herself. “You got their attention now what do you plan to do with it, Lily? Hmm? Where the hell are you going in this can of jam-packed human sardines? Wait. Brake time. Lily, are you? You’re not, are you? Are you going where I think you’re going?” Esther took an inventory of the b-brigade and noted that every one of them was watching Lily’s progress through the crowd. She looked to where Sarge stood with Anton, Little George, Percy Two and several other men. “I dare you, Lily. I dare you to finally outright own that man right here in front of everyone.” When Lily stopped near the front windows to talk with the musicians taking time out from playing for their meal, Esther sighed with disappointment. “Oh come on, Lily. Don’t stop working your mojo now. Go on, at least slide by and give him a little body slam or something. You don’t have to stick around, just make contact. Come on, girl. Do it for Esther. Please. I know you want to. You know you want to.”

When several people blocked her view of the room, Esther moved to her left and stood waiting for Lily to leave the music making trio. When she did, Esther took a deep breath and rolled her own shoulders. “That’s it, yes, Lily. Alright feeding him fruit cocktail grapes would not be Esther’s first choice of action, but it’s something.” She looked again at the women watching intently. “It’s making a point of some sort.” First the guitar player and then the others began playing one of their new songs. She took a bite of brisket and a moment later stopped chewing in surprise when Lily handed her plate to Little George then took Sarge by the hand and lead him to the small open space near the little band.

In spite of the crowd Lily and Sarge easily settled into a slow dance together in the tiny available floor space. As they danced, little by little more floor appeared as people moved aside to give them what little room there was left in order to dance properly. Esther scanned the room quickly noting who was paying attention to the only couple in the room dancing. The b-brigade was looking deadly serious. Several men were watching with dark diamond hard eyes as Lily’s stream of loose black hair swayed and shimmered as she moved in accord with Sarge.  “Mmm. There be plenty enough eyes catch that dance action to send the point to all parts known. Yes, indeed.” Esther looked at her husband and the other men in his group also taking note of the public statement Lily was making by getting Sarge to dance with her in a room  so crowded no one else was even trying to do so. “Big Man going right along with that dancing. Mmm. That’s it, Sarge, you keep on giving me reasons to like you.”

Esther was satisfied that now the attention of most curious parties would shift to other more available persons of interest and some tensions would ease up now that speculation had been put to rest with this social statement. But when they continued dancing  for another song and then a third, she wasn’t quite sure what to think about anyone’s reactions. Dance number three did more to arouse interest in the couple than it did to dispel it. Esther quickly pointed this out to Anton when he came to the food table to satisfy his sweet tooth. “Anton, there be dancing and there be dancing, you read me?”

Anton nodded. “Oh Anton reading Esther straight up.” He selected a brownie then looked across the room to where Sarge and Lily were dancing considerably closer than when they’d first claimed the small space for themselves. “Lily doin’ a good job of owning Big Man out in the open. ‘Bout time too. What got your back up about that, hmm, Fine Woman of Mine?”

“My back is not up about Lily owning the man.” Esther moved closer against his side and whispered. “But what is with all these other folks? There be more than a little sweet touch in that dance, but that’s nothing these people haven’t seen and done themselves plenty of before and then some.”

“True that. Maybe all their eyeballing cuz they ain’t sure what they seeing. Are they just dancing or are they Dancing? They sure not crossing any lines out there to decide that question. Yet.”

Esther swayed a little with the music. “Maybe they should.” She surveyed the large room again. “Or maybe not. Anton, what are your bones saying?”

“My bones? What about?”

Esther pointed with her fork towards Lily and Sarge then she quickly waved it  over the people crowding into the room for sharing food and socializing. “About whatever is trying real hard to tie a knot in my stomach.”


Any suggestions for the music they’re dancing to would be most welcome. Don’t be shy, please share your ideas.





  1. Deborah said,

    May 1, 2014 at 10:12 am

  2. Deborah said,

    May 1, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Lady in Red! 🙂

  3. penpusherpen said,

    April 21, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Everything I do, Bryan Adams… Eva. mmm mm,. makes me go weak a the knees. (not a good way to dance but who cares eh? 😉 ) Way to go Lily!!!!.. ..great episode too…nearly forgot to say… 😀 xPenx

    • April 24, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      Engaged presence is enough even if words are forgotten. 🙂
      Hope I’ve got the rigth tune for weakening the knees, Lady Penx.

  4. slpmartin said,

    April 9, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Oh I’m certain they were dancing to this song. 🙂 Another excellent write!

    • April 9, 2014 at 7:42 pm

      Crocker definitely is holding his own with Bennett and the Ladies. Nice touch indeed, Charles. 🙂

  5. Jenell said,

    April 9, 2014 at 2:57 am

    • April 9, 2014 at 7:38 pm

      Oh Jenell, what a wonderful set of duets and Bennett. Oh yeah, I can definitely hear all this happening. 🙂

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